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Chronic Pain and Emotional Pain

I have Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome from an event that happened when I was 17, another event compounded it when I was 33, and then another when I was 43.   I have been to therapy for it, and have managed it well for the past two decades.  (I'm 45, now)  I have RSD, and I noticed that when I'm about to flare, I get emotionally agitated. . .irritated.  Then the flare hits, and if it's bad, it triggers the PTS.  I'm about to go see a therapist to help me to find ways to manage the PTS when I have a bad flare.  

Depression is a symptom of RSD - emotional pain is something this disease effects.  But I'm curious. ..I know depression in chronic pain is a problem - physical pain causing the emotional pain, not the other way around.

My question is this:  What kind of things do you do for yourself to help yourself when you are in emotional pain FROM the chronic physical pain you are in?   I'd like to begin to do things for myself to offset some of this 'wow, my heart hurts' pain - especially when I'm dealing with the high levels of pain RSD brings.  

3 Responses
356518 tn?1322263642
Talk about it. If you do not feel comfortable sharing your struggles with a family member or friend, seek counseling or join a local support group. ( Med help:)
Take part in fun activities. Try something new or pick back up an old activity.
Exercise. These energizing activities can do a lot for your general health and often end up reducing stress.
Talk to a health professional. Be honest with them and they may be able to recommend special medications or trauma therapy to you.
Allow family and friends to help you.  
Set achievable goals.
Stick to a routine. Get an adequate amount of sleep and eat appropriately, these simple things provide stability in life.
Avoid alcohol and drugs. Many people turn to these substances as a way of blocking out confusing emotions. Avoiding your problems however, only increases them.
Volunteer. Help out in your community in your own personal way.
Maintain a healthy diet. Avoid foods with large amounts of sugar or caffeine. Caffeine releases stress hormones and sugar creates false highs and lows in one’s emotions.

This is a great article and is availible PDF.


Janice M. Livengood

(1)  Vanderbilt Pain Control Center, Vanderbilt School of Medicine, 37212 Nashville, TN, USA

Abstract  This article explores psychologic and psychosocial factors contributing to chronic pain including depression, seasonal affective disorder, anxiety, posttraumatic stress disorder, and anger.Also included are alexithymia and somatothymia, which are perhaps less easily identified but can have a negative impact on treatment outcome. Psychosocial factors such as family influence are also reviewed.
547368 tn?1440541785
I'm sorry I just saw your post. I too have PTS from a severe MVA some years ago but I am very lucky that I have few and rare SX. I am sorry for you because of all you are going through at this time. I wish I had some great answers. The article that Sandee has above it a good one.

I deal with the depression from pain by doing something that distracts me. I also get a natural high from helping other's such as being on MedHelp. I have thought of doing volunteer work at our local hospital, though my physical limitations are great. It helps me to know that there are others dealing with what I am or often worse than myself.  

Sometimes I sit in our jacuzzi or on the deck watching nature with a fresh glass of juice. (On a personal note avoid grapefruit juice as it can interact with medications. I once forgot that and relearned it the hard way.) Other times I find a hot bubble bath followed by a heating pad and a good movie will make me feel better. I visited the zoo last week while my mom was in a large city hospital with a serious operation. I couldn't make it all the way through the zoo nor did I see all the attractions by it was peaceful and distracting. So those are some of the things I do that help me. I one of these suggestions are useful for you.

Please take care and keep us posted. Just chatting with those who know what we are going through can be helpful. Blessings, Tuck
Avatar universal
I have chronic pain syndrome from a bad car accident which slipped my L5, on top of that I have suffered from depression since I was 7. I also have mild PTSD from my 1rst car accident.

Depression can cause physical pain, I am living proof of it.  

I am now on 2 mood stabilizers which have assisted in dropping my pain levels. I am in pain today, but it's the first time in 7 days that it has gone beyond a 4 level on my pain scale of 1-10.  Before switching meds, I was consisitently at 5-6 at least every day, I am on that scale at about a 6 today - and gritting my teeth. My GP is too afraid to give me pain meds, and my Psychiatrist is working with me to get a GP who can work as a team with me. I don't and never have abused any pain med.  I now generally only take Tylenol 1's when in pain - but at times it's just not enough. My moods can dictate me pain level, and feeling a bit depressed today, so thinking this is causing my pain.

I do believe much pain(but not all)  is started in the brain, not the other way around - though days like today - it doesn't matter I just want the pain to ease up. I was told that Chronic Pain Syndrome causes the nerves to overreact and continue to fire even after the pain has stopped in the location your pain orignally was in.

I have had 3 cat scans, multiple xrays - and even a test to check my brain, not sure of the term, but they did a CT scan and shot dye through IV into my brain.  All my CT's came out abnormal, and proved indeed I have issues which cause pain, including Arthritis, Spondylolothesis with + 4% movement of the veterbrae. I also have GERD, from all anti inflammatory drugs I have been on (sheesh)

I was just diagnosed Bipolar Spectrum Disorder in July , basically what they call BP3 now - they put me on Serequel and Lamactil to help with balancing my moods.  I was on Cymbalta to help with the CPS, but over all it just made me feel so bad emotionally and physically I was admitted into hospital. I am so glad I got hospitalized, it was the best thing that ever happened, even though I was so worried about the stigma attached to it.

Keep in touch on how things are going. This site has been a Godsend to know I'm not alone and you definitely aren't, Peace to you, Jane
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